Now the clocks have gone back, pubs, restaurants and cafes seem to have been transformed into semi-magical places of wonder, all aglow with soft orange lights - refuges, they are, as though half glimpsed in the depths of some dark, endless forest.
This is true by day as well as by night. By midwinter, the good people of this country can look forward to receiving just over seven hours of sunlight but even that will be pale and thin and in any case will be offset by the permanent grey gloom of overcast winter skies, rain and chilly wind.
I am sure it could be proved (assuming someone had the inclination and time) that well-lit purveyors of food and drink fare much better in the cold winter months than those which deign to light the fires, so to speak.
And by night, those establishments which festoon themselves with lights to look warm and inviting are the proverbial flames to (us) the proverbial moths. The Deer Park on Street Lane, Roundhay is one such. Like The Roundhay Fox just a few hundred yards down the road, it’s a substantial pub on one of the city’s busiest suburbs but like its neighbour, it’s also one of those places which might be equally at home in the middle of the countryside.
Stone floors, chunky wooden furniture, comfy looking seats in a more informal area and a grand sense of space, which makes you want to breath deep and shrug off not just your coat but the woes of city life.
There’s a good selection of crisp, refreshing lagers on tap. I go for Estrella Damm (£4.30 per pint) but they also offer some tempting ciders (Orchard Pig Reveller, 4.5 per cent, £4.50 a bottle or Sandford Orchard Fanny ’s Bramble, 4 per cent, £4.40), or real ales or there’s a good selection of G&T, cocktails, they’ll even do you a hot chocolate if you’re in the mood.
The menu is uncomplicated, service was exemplary: polite, attentive but not intrusive. It was, on the contrary, intuitive.
Foodwise, we ordered some bread and olives/balsamic vinegar (£4.95) to share - the bread was lovely.
For mains, it was roast chicken and chips with lemon and garlic confit (£12.95) - the lemon really came through, the portion was substantial. Also, there was (two lots of chicken goujons child’s porions, £5.95) and Cumberland sausage of mash (child’s, £5.95), plus drinks, which were expensive at £2.10 for a half a pint of lemonade and orange juice (£1.30 for straight lemonade). Total bill came to £50.25.
Overall, the food was excellent, service even better, the atmosphere is welcoming, relaxing, spotlessly clean and as we head into winter, The Deer Park is a welcome light in a dreary world.
The Deer Park
Street Lane, Roundhay